Week Four- Getting to Work…whether I want to or not

Two minutes is but a blur in a lifetime; barely a breath or a thought. It goes by so fast it would seem like an afterthought if we could actually remember it…but we can’t…because it was only two minutes.

UNLESS your acting teacher asks the class to have a two minute monologue to present to the class. Not only that but the monologue needs to be influenced by the class’ typing of the speaker. No pressure at all. Thank you so very much, Sally!

My first acting gig was three words in the musical Guys and Dolls for the senior musical at Cooper High School in Abilene, Texas. “What vulgar jewelry!” That was it. I wanted a bigger role but the theater¬† teacher hated the band students and since I was the lead trumpet player in the band and trumpet players are notoriously obnoxious, I got a three word part in the musical. Then a few months later, I did the musical, Grease, as Doody. Lots of lines and even a solo song. And it was a blast. But the most lines I ever had was for an acting class at North Texas State University in 1990. I memorized four pages out of the book of Job in the Bible. It was the part where Job was covered in boils and writhing around on the ground, agonizing not only the pain he felt but also the feeling of abandonment of his friends and his God. This was crazy hard but very rewarding. Fast forward to thirty years later where the majority of my gigs have consisted of expertly crafted lines like, “Damprid? Yeah, gets rid of musty odors!” and “When I get heartburn, I don’t take a break- I take a Rolaids” and one of my favorites, “Check out the A235 Operator interface and the XL duel flow cyclomatic-this thing’s a machine!” Yep. It’s like commercial writers spend all their spare time reading Shakespeare.

So after years of doing mostly commercials, my teacher, who has the disposition of a sweet adorable woman, somehow hides the spirit of a slave master in asking me to come up with this assignment. OK, so maybe this has to do with me more than her. Either way- I was freaked out and had doubts about my ability to be up to task with such a high level casting director and class. But as the Bard said, “Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.” And the truth is, I was afraid of this assignment.

But I’m in this class to learn and exceed my skills to bring my career new life. So I pulled up my big boy pants and dove in. I looked over the list of types my fellow classmates recommended and browsed the acting resumes of the choices. I happened upon the prison scene from Stranger Things with David Harbour and gave it a try. It seemed to fit but I knew it would take some work. And as if two minutes wasn’t enough, I had a heck of a time getting the scene down to two and a half minutes. Dangit.

For some reason the scene wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I worked hard on it and there are certainly some rough spots but it’s coming along. My wife watched me do it for class and said later it was better than she’d seen. There is still much work to be done for sure. And I look forward to the comments from people in the class and of course from the wonderful, completely not a slave master casting director teacher.

OK. I’m no longer scared. But if I do decide to change careers anytime soon, I think I’ll go with rodeo bull riding. Heck, they only have to go eight seconds. That sounds like cake.

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